Here’s what I’ve learned about fear: Fear tells the truth.
But not the full picture of truth.
Fear is our innate protector. Fear warns and acts as a caution sign as we approach a decision. As we near a ledge, fear is what screams at us to lean back and not walk so close. Fear is truthful in this assessment.
Fear is good. Fear is healthy.
I’m scared of a lot of things. I get a little jumpy in the dark. I am terrified of rollercoasters. I don’t like masked things. My roommates and I had a mouse problem in our kitchen and all I could imagine was a mouse jumping on my face as I walked past the sink. I get nervous on airplanes. I fear loss. I’m scared of loosing someone I love.
But if I listened only to fear, I’d always keep the lights on and I’d keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. I wouldn’t step foot in my kitchen. I’d never love. I’d never rise up after my loss.
Fear says live in a small, well lit-space. Never venture far and don’t get too attached. All of this is grounded in truth.
But fear is only one-sided. It’s only ying to another’s yang.
Enter hope. Hope allows us to balance fear. Hope is the ever-optimist. Hope revels in possibility.
But in their own right, both fear and hope need each other. Courage is the bridge that allows us to go between the two. It takes courage to listen and abide when fear raises a good point. It takes courage to listen and abide when hope dares you to step out.
Often it seems that fear begs, “Don’t try that! You might get hurt.” Hope counters with “But what if you succeed? What will you learn then?”
All of us fear. Not all of us hope.
Hope leads to the remarkable, the exciting.
Starting a business has taught me a lot about fear. It’s really easy for me to dream up all these grand plans. In my dreams, I can envision a storefront for us. One side has artsy oriental rugs and big couches, fun lights and maybe even a coffee bar. We have regulars that come in everyday just to say “hi.” People can shop around and also take a seat and chat with a friend. On the other side, we sell apparel, whistle necklaces, journals, and greeting cards that say cheeky things like, “Depression Sucks.” We have guides that describe what showing up for a friend might look like. We have free yoga classes one morning a week and groups like AA, NA and others use our space in the evenings.
I can dream all these ideas (it doesn’t matter if they all makes sense, it’s my dream after all). But when we start the doing part of this, fear kicks in: You’ve never run a business! You need a staff! How do you know where to purchase sustainably made products! Storefronts are expensive! How will you find partnerships! Run! Run away!
But courage takes a step out right before we do. It feels as if a resistance band is pulling us back as we step away from fear and toward hope. Each step is the farthest out we’ve been. Fear is still there which is good! He’s keeping an eye out for shady business deals and lost profits. But hope is there too. Guiding and saying, “one more step, just one more step.”
I love the poem What If I Fall by Erin Hanson. Erin writes:
There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, “What if I fall?”
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?